Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Going through the day with this cutie.

Yesterday she had a wiggly tooth. I heard her mention to the first grade teacher, "Can I see my mom for a minute?"
"No, she's with other kids right now. You can see her at the break."

She sat down.

At the break she was by my side, arms wrapped around me, crying because her tooth was bothering her. I gave her a hug and asked her if she wanted me to pull it out. She said no.

I left for home and returned for afternoon classes. Several moms told me she was looking for me.

"Was it her tooth?" I asked.

"Yes, it came out."

I went to her Spanish class and opened the door. She saw me and came running, smiles.

"I pulled it out myself!"

"You are so brave," I told her. (Later she told me she didn't feel brave because she was scared, and I told her that sometimes bravery is doing what you have to do, even when you're scared.)

She had a tea party birthday to attend last night. When I got her back, she was giggles and loud. Tooth under pillow that night. And a dollar appears by morning.

Her hair was in her face at the table and I pulled it back, and she was transformed into such a little girl. Two little piggy tails.

I held her in my arms and kissed her rapid fire on her cheeks and she laughed and laughed.

"If you reach 100, I'll explode," she told me.

So I kept it up to peals of laughter as she counted higher and higher.

"Poof!" I said when we passed 100.

This is how we slow time. Even the snow fell slower.

Monday, February 24, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5317-5338)

scripture, always timely
lessons on ice
friends over for a play date

and hot tea
a special delivery at our door
gray walls
a new light bulb
an amazing, comfy ride that made me laugh (I never thought I would experience that again!)

for texts with Michele
a book given away (it lasted me through two studies and a move--and now can help someone else)
hooks for the laundry room
a new pencil sharpener
the school room reclaimed

foggy mornings
warmer temperatures, however temporary
birdsong strong outside the windows
new sheets for the bed
Shane's support for things I do

cozy smells from candles burning
the drumming sound of a heavy rain

Erin's collection of "Big Eye" toys

heart cookies

a special delivery

the original pencil sharpener that I loved immediately when we first saw this house

for the imagination of a dreamer

awesome foggy day

The Edison light bulb. I love it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Certainly beautiful things come

It was the way the light came through the window and brightened the section of wall in a photograph, and I remembered.

I wondered if she remembered like this too. What triggered her time travel? Wondered if it felt the same, the tossing of emotions, and a sadness in the passing of time.

"Nothing beautiful really lasts, does it?"
It was quite true. All the nasty things like tempers and rows with Aunt Margaret went on and on, and you couldn't get rid of them. They might stop for a time, but you knew they would always come back, but the beautiful things like holidays and blossoms and sunsets and birds singing faded and died and left you feeling empty. Certainly other beautiful things came and took their places, but it didn't comfort you for the ones that had gone.

The Tanglewoods' Secret by Patricia St. John.

Yesterday, afternoon light burst past the trees and through the bay window. It laid on me like a blanket. A mug of chamomile tea, warmth within and without. I know one day, these images will be memories, like life before.

I will remember winter mornings and sunrises reaching out to me through the trees. I will remember hills and sleds and icy driveways. I will remember the kindness of neighbors and the gifts to my children. I will remember how the ice wrapped around and dripped off the captain's bell, how weighted limbs broke and the air was pine scented. I will remember the bird song, the anticipation of spring, the scent of apple blossoms, the work of hauling mulch, and the splash of summer swimming.

Other beautiful things may one day come to take the place--but no, it doesn't necessarily comfort for what has gone. 

On, on.

Monday, February 17, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5289-5316)

a great group of high schoolers
class in a circle on the floor

Zach and Lindsey having lunch with me
a gift run just before the snow storm
and a stop for frozen yogurt before heading home
Lindsey's warmest welcome and hug at seeing us
snow that started to fall, just as we neared home

a bag of library books
that amazing vanilla almond bread from the bakery
Shane's gloves

a chat with Marshall's Mom that made me so thankful for her friendship
that shirt in the mail that made Shane smile when I wore it (I (heart) my awesome husband)
a coffee delivery
neighbors with a snow blower who came calling with gifts
how he cleared our driveway (because he's got the biggest heart)

cookie baking with the girls
a chat by phone with Linda
Fridays with Julie
for a legacy a friend's father leaves behind
cookies to deliver

and Erin's decision to take them to doors herself
coffee with Helen at the kitchen table
a ride home for Erin after a frustrating evening
a warm house

how she listed me as family

Friday, February 14, 2014

Scattered hearts

Erin remembered and reminded me the other day about the scattered paper heart trail I'd leave for them on Valentine's Day, starting outside their bedroom doors, down the steps, to the kitchen table where a small gift awaited. This year's surprise is a plush "big eye" toy, and a small heart-shaped box of chocolates.

Googled recipes for buttermilk pancakes. And today, we'll bake off some chocolate heart cookies.

Big snow came through yesterday, and we enjoyed being in the house. Lanie said it was the perfect day for staying in pajamas and reading a book in bed. Surprisingly, Erin didn't even go outside. I only did to shovel off the patio and to greet some friends who ventured down the driveway (cutting a path with their snow blower!) to drop off a few things for us. A snowy encore performance last night leaves a new layer of shoveling, and maybe we'll get some sledding in later.

Monday, February 10, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5273-5288)

Nate's happy birthday party
ice on the captain's bell, beautiful

safe travels for Shane
hot coffee
kind neighbors who called and checked on us
a comfy place to sleep

clean clothes
days off
a book recommendation from Lanie (her favorite, and now one of mine: Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John)
a white ceiling and walls

hot meals
a Monday 2-hour delay

Sunday, February 9, 2014


One day, I woke to love it all, and I think it has everything to do with woods life. In how the snow rests on branches, and covers everything--its fall a whisper.

The driveway shows solitary tracks. We walk about outside and I see deer prints and rabbit prints and there's a community quiet so serene. Erin is my all-weather girl--and it doesn't matter if it's rain, ice, snow or sun, she's outside playing. This week was no exception. (Well, I did hold her back during the ice storm since branches were falling.)

Today's afternoon snow shower leaves us all hopeful and expectant: could there be a delay tomorrow? Oh, could we just have one more day?

Shane primed the laundry room, and it's a brilliant primer white. I walked in and smiled. Cindy had painted the room Antique White, from top to bottom. (EVERYTHING.) I liked it when it was their house, but now that we're here, I need a clean slate. 

He painted the ceiling white today, and I stood in there like a smiling fool, watching the snow fall outside from the window. Next is a coat of Gray Owl on the walls. I imagined the hook boards back in place, and what frames I'd hang and where the little gray bench would go. I would remove the hardware from the cabinets and the doorknobs and spray them oil-rubbed bronze.

I used to hate the brown season at times, when months of brown and dirty white were the view from every room. But this year I have come to welcome it. For a few moments I thought of spring and budding trees, of tulips and daffodils along the walkway. However, our groundhog has not come out, and I'm inclined to join him, hibernating a bit in home. It is cozy and warm. It is unhurried and hushed. It is full of color and life inside. And from here, we watch the woods fill up with snow.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

In the house on snow days

We've been taking it kind of easy the past week. Lots of county school cancellations affected us in co-op. The load has been lighter, which is good, because we have catching up to do, still, from the flu.

Lanie gave me a book to read, a favorite of hers from last year's literature list: Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John. She gave it to me so many months ago, and I'm just getting around to reading it. I'm halfway through it, and love it too. This sticks with me:

"I mean that if you spend your time putting the love of your heart into what you do for those who are not your friends, you may often be disappointed and discouraged. But if you keep on trying you will find your happiness in loving, whether you are loved back or not." 

Erin has graduated from saying cinamost toast crunch to cinnamon toast crunch. She still says yogrit and blanklet.

We had an ice storm move through the area. I was up at 5 to catch school closings, and when I learned we were closed, I went back to sleep. The power went out shortly after. I regretted not staying up and drinking coffee. No power equals no water, coffee, heat. We got it back in the afternoon, and the first thing we did was flush toilets, make coffee and hot cocoa. Then we went into cleaning mode to prepare the house for any friends who needed a place to stay the night or charge up.

We lost some tree limbs from the weight of ice on branches. We didn't have any serious damage, and I was thankful for many things, especially a warm home.

the pines were so weighted and droopy
the cherry tree in ice

some pine branches down; we lost other branches in other parts of the yard as well

beautiful light through ice as it melted in the afternoon

I didn't waste any time brewing coffee this morning. We are back to school work now, fire in the fireplace, bellies full, and bodies warm. The ice was pretty, but so glad it has melted!

Monday, February 3, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5252-5273)

stunning sunrises through skeletal woods, a winter-only visual treat
and sunsets viewed on the way home from church
conversation with a friend half a world away
unashamed vulnerability with one who is trustworthy

chocolate chip, white chip cookies in the freezer
Lanie and Erin playing the morning away
school cancellation
rumors of snow

poetic reminders
an answered prayer for friendship, before it even was out of my mouth
prayer cards and the people listed on them
grace (getting it, giving it)
home renovations that also shape the heart

bagel sandwiches
worship on Saturday night
Jesus and the captain's bell
heart longings

Erin reading books to me
ice cream run to a local shop

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Grace lives here

I once wrote about a time when I was little and I saw an old man at the grocery store take a piece of candy from the Brach's candy display. I was very young, and I thought since he took a piece, perhaps they were free samples. So I took one too. I put it in my pocket. When my dad and I got home from the store, I took the candy out to eat it. He knew he hadn't purchased it, so he took me back to the store to return it to the manager. My dad wanted to teach me a lesson. I stood fearfully in front of the store manager and cried as I offered him back the piece of candy. The manager heard me out--when my own father did not. My dad's lesson stuck with me.

I wondered later, as an adult and parent and as someone newly discovering grace, how my life might have been shaped if my father hadn't viewed me as a criminal, but had believed the best about me. How would my heart have been shaped about myself and others, if he had taken the time to ask me about the circumstances without immediately assuming the worst?

That memory may be a source of pride for him, because he believed he was teaching me a lesson about stealing. But that memory is a somber monument for me, as a missed opportunity for love, understanding and grace.

I deleted the post about it.

I'm bringing it back, however truncated and rushed, because I need to remember:

Grace lives here.

Thankful for the family I have, and for Shane's example of grace this weekend when I messed up a wall he had been repairing.   

Grace lives here.

I want to write this on my walls so that I always remember the need we have for grace. Or maybe I can just let my fingerprints in the laundry room spackle speak for me.